Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pip Gets Belly Band-ized (How to Make a Basic Belly Band)

Pip is turning out to be a great dog, but like many dogs, especially males ones, especially unneutered ones, he has a tendency to mark both inside and outside the house. We have fostered plenty of dogs with this tendency, and after they get used to all the new smells, the marking generally stops. It's just a matter of being hyper-vigilant in the beginning.

I'm finding that with all the extra work that goes into caring for Popeye everyday, plus I'm not as spry as I once was, I just don't have the energy to be so vigilant or to clean up additional accidents.

Since I have so much experience now with making belly bands for Popeye, I decided to make one for Pip. It is SO easy to make a belly band for a regular dog. But "regular" dog, I mean a dog who walks in the normal horizontal position that 4-legged dogs walk in, and a dog whose waist is not so atrophied that it is considerably narrower than the hips. Both these issues make it virtually impossible to keep belly bands stay on Popeye, since gravity is pulling them down, so there are a lot more tweaks and additional gear required.

But for a regular dog like Pip, a basic but effective belly band can be made in less than 5 minutes, at almost no cost, and without any sewing.

I'm not big on exact measurements (due to my laziness) but basically I get a rough idea of how long the belly band needs to be to go all the way around the dog's waist, then I add 2 inches (you'll see why later). I also check to see how wide the band needs to be in order to cover the penis area, and also add at least 2 inches. It's always better to be too wide rather than not wide enough. Let's use overall measurements of 30cm long x 10cm wide as an example.

Since I'll be using a thin fabric like a t-shirt, I then take the general measurements and multiply the width by 4. So that would be 30cm long x 40cm wide. I cut that out of an old t-shirt.

I'm going to illustrate the next few steps using a dishtowel because it will be easier to see.

So you have your cut out piece.

Fold the width into quarters, like this.

This way only the folded edges are exposed. None of the cut edges are exposes. T-shirts, as I discovered, have a habit of fraying and curling at the cut edges. So if you hide those edges, you shouldn't have a problem.

To prevent fraying and tearing, I make a couple folds at both ends to hide the cut edges. That's why I added 2 inches to the length in the step above.

I use plastic snaps to secure the 2 ends of the belly bands. I prefer plastic over metal because they are lightweight, they don't rust, there's less clanging in the dryer, and they're way cheaper, but metal snaps work too. These pliers are what I've been using to attach plastic snaps since getting Popeye, and I use them so often for so many household things, I wonder what I did without them.

You can use also use velcro (though that will require sewing). Or if wanted to go really basic, you could even just poke holes in the ends, loop some string through them and then just tie the 2 ends together. I used to do that in the earliest days of Popeye's diapers, but it got tiresome fairly quickly.

You could also do multiple rows of snaps if you wanted, to allow for some adjustment in sizing. All of Popeye's belly bands have many rows since I was lazy about the measurements. This band has just 1 row, but I later added another row because after I tried it on Pip, I found it to be too loose.

Your belly band is basically complete at this point. To use, just adhere a maxi pad or pantyliner to it. The one we had was longer than the belly band so I just made a fold in the middle.

You could even use 2 pads side by side for more coverage and/or if you find the width of the belly band riding down.

Note: It's handy to have a least 2 belly bands in case there is a leakage accident, so that you have an extra one to use while the other is waiting to be washed.

After using your belly band, you may find some ways to improve upon it so that it works better for your particular dog. For this reason, I wouldn't be too particular about trying to make your early belly bands look perfect (if you care about that sort of thing--which my lazy butt obviously doesn't).

Pure wool is great to use as a belly band because the lanolin in wool actually neutralizes the ammonia in urine. Wool is commonly used in cloth diapering for babies because when pee gets on it, rather than washing it every time, you just hang it up outside and the pee sort of magically disappears. That means you can re-use it several times even when it gets stained with pee before having to wash it.

To prep wool for use as a belly band, you need to felt it first. You've probably heard how wool always needs special care when washing so that it doesn't get ruined. Well, if you stick it in your washer for a hot wash and cold rinse, you've essentially "ruined" your wool. The result is that it's been felted--ie. made fuzzy and softer.

Here's my wool belly band. I didn't have any pieces of wool long enough so I just took 2 scraps and sewed them together. Then I attached some plastic snaps to the ends. Since wool is thicker and doesn't curl up at the ends, there's no need to worry about extra layers or folding the ends. Just 1 piece of wool the exact size you want your belly band to be is all you need.

Place an absorbent pad on top as usual. If urine accidentally gets on it, just hang it up for a few hours and it'll be as good as new. When you decide it needs to be washed, you can wash it on hot wash/cold rinse. Every few washes, use lanolin detergent instead of regular detergent. Easy.

Pip tends to stay by my side, but now he is free to explore the house on his own every once in a while without me having to keep an eye on him every second.


Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

He is so khute!

Khwite the khreative bellybanding!